Instant feedback in Drama

Something that is often difficult in drama is evidencing progress, assessment and feedback when you have a class working towards a performance. In all the specifications from Key stage 4 to 5, there is some element of performance, which leads to a series of several lessons (often almost a terms worth) where students are working independently from the teacher, working to their own deadlines and creating something that is specific to them. One of the things I have noticed from completing many of these lessons is that making sure that students are working towards an assessment criteria (rather than just making a performance in isolation from it and hoping at the end that it meets it) and as a teacher providing evidence of feedback to students (which normally happens verbally and therefore there is no evidence once that conversations has happened). Having recently put on a production of The Comedy of Errors for the Shakespeare Schools Festival, I took copious amount of notes on every run through with detailed and specific feedback on how to improve both the whole performance and the individual performances by the students. For some reason, it hadn’t really occurred to me to do the same in lessons on a daily basis rather than just for dress rehearsals. So, during the lesson I go around the groups and instead of interrupting the rehearsals to provide feedback immediately, I sit back and watch with a notebook in my hand and write down everything I think they need to improve on. Of course, making sure that these notes are relevant to the assessment criteria. After maybe 5 to 10 minutes, I stop the students, read back to them the notes I’ve taken, with appropriate modeling if it is needed, and then hand them the notes I’ve taken so that they can refer to them and use them in their own time. The time they return to those notes can be in this lesson, or the next lesson or even in their own time in rehearsal outside of lesson time. This has worked well this week, and the students became much more interested to improving and changing their performances using the notes I’ve taken because they have the notes with them to work on after I’ve left. Frustratingly I’ve noticed that previously when I have given verbal feedback, what ever I’ve said has almost been lost within seconds of me leaving. This coming week I want to embed this practice a little more. There needs to be a link between the methods of feedback and the assessment criteria. The students need to have that assessment criteria at the beginning of the lesson and they need to reflect on all their notes at the end of the lesson, setting targets for the next lesson to improve.

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